Junior Sisk: no more Bicycle Chain

Junior Sisk at the 2012 IBMA Awards nominations event - photo by Collin PetersonJunior Sisk has asked us to share this statement about his decision to stop including one of the songs from his current album, Old Bicycle Chain, in his live show. The song is a tongue-in-cheek farce written by Billy Smith that includes a theme that has enraged some members of the music world, to wit, a line that suggests that if the singer’s woman doesn’t change her ways, he’ll “whup you with an old bicycle chain.”

Anyone who knows Junior, or Billy, recognizes them to be good-hearted men, without an ounce of malice for anyone. But outrage over the song bubbled up at World of Bluegrass in Raleigh last week during a Women in Bluegrass seminar. I was not in attendance, but as it was reported to me, several members of both the audience and the panel took great exception to the song, feeling that it advocated or condoned violence towards women. In my own social circle, most women have found the hyperbole of the song’s narrator humorous, but the aggressive disdain expressed of late in other quarters has led Sisk to drop the song.

Dear Bluegrass World.

Recent comments have been made about my decision to include the song, Old Bicycle Chain, on our latest CD. I would like to apologize to anyone who has taken offense by this song. It was never my intention to support any sort of violence. It was a good up tempo song that we thought would cause a chuckle.

For those of you who request and enjoy the song, sorry, you will no longer be hearing it live. We are not going to be performing it on our shows any longer.

Thank you all for your support; I look forward to moving forward and putting this behind us. Hope to see you all down The Bluegrass Road.


Junior Sisk

For those of you not hip to this controversy, have a listen to the song here.


So… no more Bicycle Chain.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.

  • It doesn’t matter how you frame it, domestic violence isn’t funny. I’m proud that Junior made the correct choice here and I agree with the author that neither he, nor the writer meant any harm. Yet sometimes things come out differently than intended.

    From the outset I chose not to air this track from Junior’s excellent CD on The Bluegrass Radio Network.

    I believe there is a good lesson to be learned here. Words are powerful. They can lift our spirits, give us hope and even help us understand why certain things happen in life. But they can also cause pain. Junior’s choice to reassess the interpretation of this song by some of his fans and refrain from performing it out of respect for them, is in my opinion the sign of a truly good person. But of course, we already knew that about Junior.

    • Edwin Staggerton

      Very well said, Terry.

      I know some people are offended by this tune, and others are not.

      Some people are calling Junior’s decision not to play it an act of PC cowardice, and that’s really too bad. Because whether you think it’s a good song or a bad song, whether you find it offensive or not, it is the artist’s right to choose what he or she wants to perform. Junior is exercising that right, and it is not our place to second-guess or judge him.

      If you like this song and aren’t bothered by its content or the reactions it generates, start your own band and add it to the set list!

    • Greg Parks

      Terry, your voice carries weight and I am glad that you have added your perspective. I always changed the station(BluegrassJunction) when this song came on- I knew it was tongue-in-cheek, but I honestly despised the whole notion. Some defend the old violent songs as important to Bluegrass history- I refuse to listen to them as well. I find political correctness to be tedious, but I am convinced that this debate is more about whether we of the Bluegrass world want to act like ignorant hillbillies or whether we want to be what most true Bluegrassers really are- decent, intelligent, music lovers that are sensitive to the horrors that exist(and have always existed) in this world.

  • David Conner

    While I understand and support the decision made by Junior Sisk, one does have to wonder what this means for tunes like “Willow Garden”, “Knoxville Girl”, “Banks of the Ohio”, etc, which provide images of domestic murder.

    • Blake

      Well, to split hairs there is a distinction between the old murder ballads and “Old Bicycle Chain”. Songs like “Down in the Willow Garden”, “Knoxville Girl”, “Banks of the Ohio”, “Little Sadie”, “99 Years”, etc. are murder ballads where the murderer usually gets put in jail or is put to death for his crime. So there is justice and implied morality.

      “Old Bicycle Chain” is just a song about a man that threatens to beat his lady if she doesn’t fall in line with his demands. It’s pure misogyny without any of the justice or retribution of classic murder ballads.

      And to echo the statements of others on this forum, Sisk has the freedom to choose any song he wants to perform or not perform. No one is forcing him to stop playing it. It is a smart choice by a performer to not want to stoke further controversy and turn off half of his audience.

      I agree with Edwin Staggerton, “If you love the song, start your own band and play it at every show”. And I’ll add that you should also sing it to your mother, your wife, and your daughter. I’m sure they think it’s hilarious!

  • Brent Sterling

    Where will this end. I am totally against anyone who physically and mentally abuses anyone, but to censure a song? (and I don’t really care for the song) There goes most of the bluegrass murder ballads. Did this pc correct board go after rap, rock, and country. Are they going after the Carrie Underwood song because it promotes vandalism? Does this panel have this much power and who gave it to them? So we have to tip-toe around so as not to offend anyone? I am for our first amendment rights. (And I am not excluding common sense) “Great peace have they which love thy law:and nothing shall offend them.”

    • Edwin Staggerton

      It’s not censorship. Junior has decided not to play it. There’s no rule or law or other mitigating force preventing him from doing it. He’s just decided it’s not the right thing for him to be doing, which is well within the freedom of expression guaranteed by the first amendment.

      • Brent Sterling

        Just the beginning then.

        • Edwin Staggerton

          Yeah. I’m sure the bluegrass lyric death panels are already being organized in church basements and community centers across the land. Pfft.

          • Brent Sterling

            I used the word censure, not censored.
            Censure = reprove.
            Scoff if you will, the panel censured him for the song.

          • Edwin Staggerton

            Very solid distinction — thanks for pointing it out. I should have picked up on that. Although “censure” generally implies a formal statement/citation, which was not the case here…but the panel certainly did express discontent, which is their right to do so. And it’s Junior’s right to respond as he sees fit.

      • jeffrey barnett

        He was bullied in to dropping the song, the song is very tongue in cheek & I don’t think to be taken serious, I know it didn’t cause me to go whip any woman with a bicycle chain….just saying, I think it’s ridiculous that it has come to this.

  • Shannon Wade

    I can’t believe this panel took such exception to this song, which is clearly in jest, when I can name no less than 10 bluegrass tunes about MURDERING women; and just to be clear, I love all the murder ballads. I also thoroughly enjoy this tune, because I have a sense of humor. This makes me sad, but I love Jr. Sisk and will continue to support his music. And just to be clear, I am a woman.

    • Derek

      Junior can make is own choices. And, as a songwriter, there is a difference between reporting a historical record (as some murder ballads do) and writing a song in jest of a horrific situation. It’s kind of like relating the story of a five year face-planting on a concrete sidewalk versus laughing at that kid for getting hurt. It isn’t a matter of political correctness, but of moral obligation, and I hope that that is what Junior recognized.

  • Gena Britt

    Just to be clear on this…..First of all, I do not normally get involved in political or religious matters because I do not deal well with negative or controversial issues. However, I feel like on this subject, my voice needs to be heard in light of the recent decision that Junior had to make. I was on this panel last Wednesday. Not everyone on the panel voiced an opinion on this subject, including myself. I respect my peers and all those that I served on the panel with. However, I love Junior Sisk…the man he is & the music he has contributed to our genre. I personally do not condone domestic violence. Who does? However, I also don’t agree with him having to pull this song. Does this mean that we will have to stop performing 50% of all bluegrass music? It’s all about murdering, killing, moonshine, etc. If you ask me why I did not say anything on the day of the seminar, I would tell you that I respected my peers. It’s almost always safer to say nothing at all. And, to be honest….I would have rather talked more about my influences such as Lynn Morris & the fact that we don’t have a barrier for women in bluegrass anymore and how far we have come,rather than this subject.

    • Edwin Staggerton

      “However, I also don’t agree with him having to pull this song.”

      He doesn’t HAVE to do anything. He made a choice. No one passed any laws.

      • Gena Britt

        Excuse me, poor choice of words. My mistake. I’m not bashing anyone for their opinion. I was merely stating mine. Forgive me for saying “HAVE”. You’re exactly right. He made a choice.

      • jeffrey barnett

        he was bullied & cracked under pressure.

    • Dennis Jones

      Miss Gena…who were the “several members of both the audience and the panel took great exception to the song”. How many people were in the room total?

      • Gena Britt

        It was packed,standing room only full of an audience evenly disbursed with men & women. I can’t tell you exactly who the ones with exception were, because to be quite honest…when the topic came up, I clammed up & became quite nervous.

        • Dennis Jones

          So it was a minority of panel and even a smaller number of audience?

          • Edwin Staggerton

            Um, what does it matter? If someone Junior trusted and respected said this was hurtful, and he listened, it doesn’t make a difference if it was a majority or a minority.

  • Dennis Jones

    Who were the….”several members of both the audience and the panel took great exception….”?

    • I wasn’t there. Perhaps Gena can shed some light on that question.

      • Gena Britt

        The panel was Annie Stanenic (sp? sorry), Kathy Kallick, Laurie Lewis, Murphy Henry, Kimber Ludiker (of Della Mae) and myself. All of the panel members did not participate on this topic,including myself. And forgive me, I can’t remember who the audience members were that spoke up. It was a short-lived conversation actually.

        • Ted Lehmann

          I was in the audience, which applauded when Kathy Kallick made her initial statement. I first wrote about the inappropriateness of this song in my review of the CD in February (http://tinyurl.com/p42frjs). I’d say there was no one who spoke up against what Kathy had to say, although there may have been some who disagreed. There’s been too much discussion of this issue, and I suspect that Junior can’t be happy that it continues. There’s no censorship here, but the question of good taste and the threat of domestic violence are both real. As others have said, in most murder ballads, the killer comes to grief in the end. In the end, this is a question of good judgement. After several months of trying to explain away the intent of the song, Junior has sought to put it away. We should assist him in this.

  • Cliff Abbott

    I’ve often heard people comment that they are offended by rap “music” because it denigrates women and promotes violence against them. I never thought I’d hear the same argument directed at Bluegrass, but here it is, front and center.

    I applaud Junior for being sensitive to the feelings of others, whether or not he personally agrees with their opinions. I don’t think Bluegrass music will suffer any from a shortage of song lyrics about beating women with bicycle chains… and I really don’t care to know who the individuals who objected were / are.

  • Dick Bowden

    I take no position either way on either the complaints or Junior’s decision. I gave this article 5 stars though for open discussion of this issue, instead of “avoiding controversy” by not airing this news item. Good job B.T.

  • Scranton Pemberton

    Guys, seriously, we need to stop this fighting so we can get back to subjigating women to domestic servitude, paying them less money for doing an equal amount of work, and ruining their bodies and their careers by getting them pregnant and forcing them to raise our children.

  • george

    Never thought I would have seen the day when a bluegrass song would need approval from some “board”..its really sad that we have gptten to this point..will there be groups from this so called “board” walking around festivals where people are picking and making sure they are singing the correct songs..you have to really question your maturity level to let something like a song get you so upset…I know its looks bad Mr. Monroe but there are still many that will keep this thing going…

    • Edwin Staggerton

      Are you reading this at all? THERE IS NO BOARD APPROVING BLUEGRASS SONGS. THERE IS NO BLUEGRASS POLICE. Some members of Junior’s audience took offense at this tune. He responded by removing it from his set list. That decision was his alone and was not made under threat of any sort of penalty other than the forces of the marketplace.

      If this song, which is frankly not very good, is that important to you, START A BAND AND PLAY IT AT EVERY SHOW.

  • franklin gadd

    So I guess where does this all end? Is going to be that evry song that is presented to a recording artist will have to be presented to a so called panel for approval? Does it mean the removal of Under god from the pledge sort of thing? I think the pendelum has swung completely in the other direction to far as think back about Johnny Cash and presenting his song on national TV (Sunday Morning Coming Down. I sure know what Cash said when ask if he’d perform it the way it was written. And I for sure will stand up and say what I care to for as long as I have a breath left!

    • Edwin Staggerton

      Are you reading this at all? THERE IS NO BOARD APPROVING BLUEGRASS SONGS. THERE IS NO BLUEGRASS POLICE. Some members of Junior’s audience took offense at this tune. He responded by removing it from his set list. That decision was his alone and was not made under threat of any sort of penalty other than the forces of the marketplace.

      If this song, which is frankly not very good, is that important to you, START A BAND AND PLAY IT AT EVERY SHOW.

  • Scranton Pemberton

    It sure is fun when people who go around championing free speech and the virtues of the unregulated marketplace then go and yell at people for:

    – expressing their opinions freely
    – reacting to said opinions in a way they think will make their audience happy and ensure a continued turnout at their gigs
    – allowing the marketplace to play a role in dictating their actions

    As some folks above have pointed out, this situation is NOT the result of some shadow government body. It’s freedom — of expression, of the marketplace — at work.

    And yeah, Billy Smith has written way way better songs.

  • David Smith

    Yes! And Danny Paisley should bring back the original lyrics to Stephen Foster’s, “My Old Kentucky Home,” where of course the “people” are “darkies” who are happy slaves because it’s such a beautiful day! Come on… this song has a woman beaten with a bike chain. Times change and so do songs. Sorry, but, “Knoxville Girl” isn’t exactly high on the charts now-a-days, or being yelled out as a request.

  • kenneth schroeder

    Come on people, who ever you are,get over yourselves. It was a not so great song written in jest.Junior made a decision not to include it in his shows anymore. I hope the high and mighty minority are satisfied. Now they have more time to carry on their vendetta. Yes I said vendetta for that’s all it seems to be. Good Lord there are a lot more so called violent songs out there for them to suggest censoring.
    GET A LIFE!!!!

  • Laurie Lewis

    I was a member of the panel on women in bluegrass, so I thought I’d weigh in on this hot topic. First, I had not heard the song “Old Bicycle Chain” at that time, so made no comment on it one way or the other there. I’m a big fan of Junior’s singing, and in my opinion he’s one of those guys who could sing the phone book and make me want to listen. I was disappointed upon finally hearing this song, because it just isn’t that well-written or clever. If Junior decides to drop it from his repertoire, I don’t think that the bluegrass oevre will be any poorer for its exclusion. But that is not what’s at issue here, really. I believe it is the purpose of every artist to give voice to those who have none. In this spirit, we all have choices involving whose voice we want to put out there. Why not choose to help make the world a more harmonious place? I’m not trying to get all Pollyanna on y’all. It just makes sense to use what little time and talent we have here to help heal this broken world.

    Point of fact: the discussion of that song, and misogynist songs in general, was short-lived. Some radio personalities stated that they had chosen not to play that song. Kathy Kallick said something to the effect that she would like for people to take responsibility for what they sing and move beyond subject matter that condones, even in a “joking” style, spousal abuse. Personally, I believe that this song is different from all the old murder ballads listed in the above comments, for many reasons. They deal with human passions of jealousy (mostly) and generally have a moral. Those songs have stood the test of time, like Shakespeare tragedies. This song won’t.

    I respect Junior’s choice to exclude this song from his set lists, and admire his decision to take a public stand. That takes grit. Bravo!

  • Scranton Pemberton

    This is a greater threat than Obamacare and Gun Control combined, and I’ll be dagnabbed if I’m gonna sit idly by and watch my freedoms be stripped from me. THE TIME HAS COME TO STAND UP.


  • KcKc

    Let’s get some books burning while we’re at it folks.
    Third Time Out’s release of Modern Day Bonnie & Clyde condone armed robbery. Larry Cordle’s Justice for Willy has a wife murder her husband. This is by far the most absurd thing I’ve seen in the bluegrass world thus far. Perhaps the only thing worse, are the folks above stating that “the song isn’t that good.” Really? Is this critics corner now, is that what this is about?
    These are just SONGS people…music…entertainment.
    While some applaud Juniors decision to exclude the song, others are unhappy about it as they liked the song. Isn’t THAT what this is about, giving the listener what they like; what they want?
    Junior is on the losing end now, no matter what. Folks will be unhappy that he won’t perform the song, others would be upset if he did.
    Who are we, to criticize an artist & brow beat them for the music they choose to perform?
    Listen if you like it, don’t if you don’t. But for crying out loud, let the creators create.

    • Edwin Staggerton

      While I feel the song is pretty darn crummy, this issue is actually about giving the artist the respect and freedom to do what they want. Junior has decided that this song isn’t right for his set and his audience. We should respect that decision.

      • KcKc

        Freedom to do what they want, after a proper brow beating.

        • Edwin Staggerton

          Hey, just as an artist is free to express himself, other members of society are free to react and openly discuss what they like and what they don’t like. Junior’s a big boy, he can deal with the consequences.

        • Scranton Pemberton

          Yeah, KcKc, it’s called AMERICA. Love it or leave it.

    • Derek

      “Who are we, to criticize an artist & brow beat them for the music they choose to perform?”

      And who are we to criticize and brow beat them for music that they choose NOT to perform?

  • Cecil M Lambert

    Maybe with some creative rewriting of the last line or two the the song can be preserved as an uptempo bluegrass tune. I’m no writer, but here’s my suggestion for the last line – ” I’ll send you back to mama’s in the rain “

    • Cecil M Lambert

      Or perhaps ” I’ll swap you for an old bicycle chain “

  • Herbie Beasley

    Meh, I just listened to this tune for the first time in the video associated with this article. I get why highly sensitive/PC folks have an issue with this tune. I get why Junior has decided not to play it (bluegrass is small enough genre as-is, no need to alienate ONE SINGLE FAN (or worse, a critic with a following) if you can help it). But it doesn’t offend me or my wife. Because it’s a song. It is not a call to beat up on a girlfriend or a wife.

    But if this is indeed the way forward, someone needs to call Hollywood, Kevin Costner in particular, and have them edit the ending of “Open Range” where Costner asks Anette Benning “How’s this gonna work if you don’t do what I say?” because that’s emotional spousal abuse. And we need to tilt the playing field for any future abusive songs the other direction where the ladies are beating up on the guys – because that’s never discussed even though it is a lot more common than anyone knows – just to get even with us dastardly guys singing these misogynistic songs all these years…bet those songs would draw applause and no complaints.

    And we need to ABSOLUTELY back off on all murdering tunes – I say we start with one of Norah Jones’ latest, “Miriam” – it’s a doosey. This is a no-brainer due to the “Good for the Goose/Good for the Gander” axiom. If you can’t “beat up” on someone in a song, you certainly should’nt be able to kill ’em either.

    And I absolutely get those that ask “Where does this end?” Slippery slopes are called that for a reason.

    • Scranton Pemberton

      Hear, hear! Where DOES it end? We gotta nip this rapidly escalating bluegrass lyric police movement in the bud! And hey, while we’re at, it let’s bring some other great things lost to political correctness, starting with black-faced minstrelsy, the forced internment of Japanese-Americans, and the plague. Lead us to a glorious new era, Herbie!

  • Mountain Fever Records

    So is life in the big tent.

    • Scranton Pemberton

      Oh yeah. If Chris Thile never would have used that whole-tone scale, this never would have happened.

      Grow up.

      Respect the rights of people to express their opinions and Junior’s right to respond. This is not some dang thought police situation.

      Or, since you own a record label, why not record all of your artists cutting versions of this song (which has little to no redeemable social, musical, or lyrical value) and release it as a fundraiser for artists who have been targeted by the bluegrass thought police. WHICH DOESN’T EXIST.

  • dennis

    The problem here isn’t that some like a song and some don’t, or that the song was offensive to “some” because that is true with a lot songs. The problem here really isn’t about a song at all. It is that “some” took it upon themselves to publicly, in a formal group setting, reprimand an artist for a song that “some” of them found offensive. They might have mentioned this to the artist in private making him aware that some were offended but they didn’t. They chose to do it publicly, embarrassing the artist and forcing him to withdraw the song and try to end the controversy. They certainly have a “right” to voice their opinion but certainly doesn’t make it “right” to do so.There is a time a place for everything. It obviously embarrassed the artist and I’m sure the writer. It may not be the intent of those who spoke up against the song to “censor” the music but the reality is that is exactly what they did. Now, because controversy those criticizing the song have caused, other artist and songwriters will think twice before writing or performing a song “some” might find offensive. In my opinion it is those who criticized PUBLICLY, who were in the wrong are the ones who should be issuing an apology. Intentionally or unintentionally they have indeed “censored” the bluegrass music. For those who remember IBMA reprimanded Rhonda Vincent for singing a patriotic song that offended “some” after 911 and she only returned this year because of those “few” who wanted to make “their” opinions known.

    • Scranton Pemberton

      “In my opinion it is those who criticized PUBLICLY, who were in the wrong are the ones who should be issuing an apology.”

      WHAT? We gather once a year for a frank discussion on trends in the industry, and we cannot comment on something like this? We’re just supposed to sugarcoat our emotions and let uncomfortable topics simmer behind closed doors?

      We cannot overcome our problems, learn about one anothers’ feelings, and come to a better understanding of the bluegrass audience if we let ourselves be bound and gagged by such a petty notion as this.

      By publicly releasing music, artists enter into a wider world and expose themselves to criticism and to praise. Having your choices scrutinized is part of being an artist in the public sphere, and I’m sure Junior is aware of this. The same liberty that allows him to perform his (mostly very fine) music also gives you and I to express our opinions on how that music made us feel.

      The notion you put forth is not only ill-considered and bad for bluegrass, it borders on the incredibly offensive “blame the victim” mentality that keeps so many in chains.

      This sort of narrow-minded world view probably would have been fine in the ’50s, when gay people stayed unhappily in the closet and victims of rape and domestic violence were afraid to come forward, but it certainly has no place in today’s world (of bluegrass and beyond).

  • dennis

    Sorry for the typo’s. I posted before I meant to. What I meant to say was Rhonda did not appear at IBMA for several years because of a “few LOUD opinionated voices” who were “offended” by a patriotic song.

  • Donald Teplyske

    >>>In my opinion it is those who criticized PUBLICLY, who were in the wrong are the ones who should be issuing an apology.<<< So someone can PUBLICLY sing a song I find offensive, but I have to express my concern PRIVATELY. No, I don't think so. I can't understand how people are hitching their energy (and expressions of life, liberty, and freedom) to a song that a) the singer has simply stated he will no longer sing b) about a husband threatening his wife with a beating.

    • KcKc

      How do you know it was from a husband to a wife?
      Maybe it was from one gay man to another? Maybe it was to his girlfriend? Maybe it was from a lady. Just because a man is singing it, doesn’t make it fact. David Allen Coe sang Stand by Your Man.

      • Edwin Staggerton

        Good point — I’m sorry I didn’t think about it that way. Those forms of domestic violence are totally noble and worthwhile, and should be celebrated in story, dance, and song.

  • dennis

    The “threat” was not serious in any way. It was a joke. Maybe a bad joke but a joke none the less. Everyone knew that. I was making the point people could have asked Jr. “privately” to remove the song and he probably would have done so. Instead people chose to try and publicly humiliate him and the writer. They were Wrong. Also, My statement was not about protecting life, liberty and freedom of speech Donald. My statement about protecting creativity and self-expression through music. If you want to publicly express your opinion please do so, but be aware there is a cost. When critics climb on their high horse and demand songs be “our way or the highway”, the cost is watered, down, generic, cliched songs, that are lifeless drivel created trying to “please” all the “critics” telling someone else what “music” THEY don’t like. Criticism can be beneficial if presented in the right way but it can also destroy. The criticize in this case is a destroyer of creativity and self-expression in music

    • Scranton Pemberton

      I’m sorry, Dennis, but if you make art in public, you are subject to public scrutiny. That’s just how it works, in every art form. Bluegrass is not a bubble.

      And, honestly, bluegrass needs honest criticism more than most genres, because — frankly — the quality of songwriting in bluegrass is abysmal. So many cliches, so many half-written lyrics, so many recycled melodies.

      This song is a great example of the poor quality of a lot of today’s bluegrass. And, hey, guess what: Some folks criticized it, and now it is no longer out there, making the genre weaker and less appealing to newcomers.

      Of course, this is all a side-effect. The main issue here is that Junior made a decision regarding his art, and we all should respect it. If you feel so strongly about it, as other folks have mentioned above, start a band and record the song yourself. The song’s a piece of crap, so you guys won’t get far, but you’ll be taking a stand. YAY YOU.

  • dennis

    “This sort of narrow-minded world view probably would have been fine in the ’50s, when gay people stayed unhappily in the closet and victims of rape and domestic violence were afraid to come forward, but it certainly has no place in today’s world (of bluegrass and beyond”

    What a foolish statement.

    I hope you were looking in the mirror when you said that because it fits you perfectly Scranton. It is obvious you are too emotionally attached to your own inflated and misguided opinion to be objective and it is also obvious you will NEVER understand what I said. The fact is, that it is you and those like minded, who want to “exclude” free thought. You are the one demanding an artist get “get in the closet. You are the one demanding an artist not sing a song YOU don’t approve of. My post and my stance is to allow artist to sing and writers to write want they want without being restricted by the self appointed lyric police such as yourself. Fans can decided for themselves weather or not they like the music without you “censoring” their music for them. Fortunately in this country you still have the right to voice your opinion so get on your self-righteous soap box and preach away. Keep purposefully taking others comments out of context on forums to support your censorship. Please continue to call names and browbeat artist and writers PUBLICLY and try to hurt their careers. You know Bluegrass artist don’t make much money don’t you Scranton. You know Bluegrass artist have bills to pay don’t you Scranton. You know PUBLICLY criticizing artist can hurt them financially don’t you and the last thing they need is fewer cd sales and NO radio play. So Please continue to attack personally those who have a different opinion of life and music. Please continue to exercise your “right” to try and sanitize and water down bluegrass music and make it fit into your own little liberal narrow minded music box and make it as sterile and fake and lifeless and soul-less as you are!

    • Scranton Pemberton

      You dope. You petty, asinine, childish individual.

      I am 100% behind an artist doing whatever he or she wants. Just as I have a right to react to the things I see and hear. This is America. You’re the one preaching suppression, asking people to keep their opinions bottled up. Bluegrass artists don’t make much money. You know who also doesn’t make a lot of money? MOST ARTISTS. It’s sad, but it’s a fact. And with arts funding being cut left and right by conservative lawmakers, and shrinking school budgets causing the elimination of music and arts programs, it’s only gonna get worse.

      I hereby cancel my membership on Bluegrass Today. The petty, small-minded thugs who troll the message boards aren’t worth arguing with. This genre is doomed to die a sad, lonely death at the hands of extremists who can’t accept the fact that tradition and innovation can thrive side-by-side, that dialogue is healthy and vital, and that we need to look to the future as well as the past.

      Goodnight, asshole.

      • KcKc

        “When this tactic is used instead of an argument, name-calling is thus a substitute for rational, fact-based arguments against an idea or belief, based upon its own merits, and becomes an argumentum ad hominem.[1]”

        • dennis

          Yes KcKc. The rest of the explanation in the link you posted is worth noting also. You can see the technique is well supported here on this forum. “Name calling is a cognitive bias and a technique to promote propaganda. Propagandists use the name-calling technique to incite fears or arouse positive prejudices with the intent that invoked fear (based on fearmongering tactics) or trust will encourage those that read, see or hear propaganda to construct a negative opinion, in respect to the former, or a positive opinion, with respect to the latter, about a person, group, or set of beliefs or ideas that the propagandist would wish the recipients to believe. The method is intended to provoke conclusions and actions about a matter apart from an impartial examinations of the facts of the matter.”

    • franklin gadd

      That was my point!

  • David Morris

    Dialogue is, indeed, “healthy and vital.” So is criticism. To me, there was absolutely no problem that this song came up for discussion at an IBMA panel and there’s nothing sinister about either that discussion or Junior’s decision not to perform the song. It wasn’t censorship. Nobody forced Junior to do anything. But it doesn’t serve the music, the artists or the fans to suggest certain subjects should be off limits and that we should express any criticism we have in private. There’s good music and there’s bad music, and there are fans trying to decide what buy with their hard-earned dollars. Silence doesn’t serve them.

    • Edwin Staggerton

      …a well-reasoned and thoughtful post, David. But from what I’ve seen reading down this thread, it probably won’t be welcomed in the myopic bluegrass world.

    • KcKc

      Wait, didn’t this come out of the “women in bluegrass” panel? Where was the “men in bluegrass” panel?

      • Edwin Staggerton

        Right on, brother! For too long, the IBMA has ignored the needs of its white male constituency – especially those with mustaches. That’s why I am proud to announce the formation of the Diplomatic Union of Male Bluegrass Artists, Songwriters, and Supporters.

        The first meeting of DUMBASS will be convened on February 19, 2014, in my mom’s basement in Forked Wing, Ohio. Light refreshments will be served. I’ll see you all there!

        • Edwin Staggerton

          OH MY GOD YOU GUYS!

          I think that I just combined “satire” with “name calling” in one post!

          I AM THE LIZARD KING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • dennis

    Its ironic but very predictable that those who preach civility and fairness and diversity the loudest, are almost always first to stoop to petty name calling and personal attacks when confronted by someone with a “different” opinion.

    According to this years IBMA convention reports bluegrass is growing by leaps and bounds. The reason bluegrass music is growing is people are sick of the fake, politically correct,industry filtered, trying to please everybody, nonsense that has infested every other form of music. People are looking for honesty and reality in their music. They don’t want the sugar coated adolescent tripe that permeates our airwaves. Like it or not there “really” are people, who at times, feel like taking a bicycle chain to some one else. If you don’t believe me, watch the news or go visit your state prison. “Real music” is a reflection of real life. Real feelings. I don’t believe those that criticized Jr.’s song wish to change bluegrass music. I think ‘most” but not “all” of them love the music and would never intentionally do anything to harm it, but it’s a slippery slope that they stepped on. What will be the next song or lyric that has to be removed because “some” are offended?
    Bluegrass music still provides an honest and authentic truth that connects to people and it will continue to grow until it is forced to concede its heart and soul to those who want to make it fit in to their, “can’t we all just get along” imaginary box.

    I “really” do love this music and it would break my heart, and probably the heart of 99% of the readers here, to see it disappear or morph into something that does not even resemble what Mr. Monroe created.
    I’m not talking about traditional vs. contemporary here folks. I’m talking about “real and honest” music that makes you feel something vs. “fake and lifeless” songs are worthless. Country music didn’t die overnight folks. It died line by line one song at a time. Be careful what you asked for when you asked an artist “not” to sing a song.

    • Edwin Staggerton

      As someone who regularly beats my wife with an old bicycle chain, I wholeheartedly agree with Dennis.

  • dennis

    “Dialogue is, indeed, “healthy and vital.” So is criticism.”

    I agree David but only if its an honest dialogued that is respectful to those being discussed. I haven’t read that Jr. or the writer was there at the meeting to defend themselves. Criticism is valid when it is intended to be helpful and not delivered with intent to harm. Many on the panel seen that the discussion could be harmful and correctly chose to keep their opinions to themselves. It appears others opened fire without any regard to the damage it could cause for those being hit by their criticism.

    • Edwin Staggerton

      Exactly. It’s just like that time when I saw a bunch of dudes beating up a cop in a back alley. I could have said something, but I kept my opinion to myself and walked away. It wasn’t my place to pipe up, and those dudes probably had good reason. I continue to sleep very well.

      • Edwin Staggerton

        noun \ˈsa-ˌtī(-ə)r\

        : a way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, weak, bad, etc. : humor that shows the weaknesses or bad qualities of a person, government, society, etc.

  • dennis

    So, Edwin, its alright for you to joke about beating your wife but not Jr. Classic!

    • Edwin Staggerton

      Let me help you out, buddy:

      noun \ˈsa-ˌtī(-ə)r\

      : a way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, weak, bad, etc. : humor that shows the weaknesses or bad qualities of a person, government, society, etc.

  • dennis

    Yes, Snarky, arrogant remarks always add to the open and thought dialogue. Thanks for your contribution Edwin.

    • Edwin Staggerton

      Always happy to help!



  • Edwin Staggerton

    I’d like to hear what Noam Pikelny has to say on this subject.

    • KcKc

      What a weird statement, IMHO.
      Why would you care what position another has? If he is in disagreement with you, would you change your mind?

      • Kevin Landon

        It’s called a joke. I’ll back it up and explain it to you:

        1. A lot of people took issue with Noam’s opening remarks at IBMA.

        2. A lot of people took issue with this particular debacle surrounding “Old Bicycle Chain.”

        Hence, it’s funny to think of the two controversies coming together.


        * I realize that, generally bluegrass is devoid of humor – as evidenced by the fact that some people think that whipping another person with an old bicycle chain is funny or amusing. I’m tilting at windmills here.

        • KcKc

          Gee kevin, thanks for dumbing things down for me. Sorry I couldn’t attend the ibma, I was a bit tied up.
          If there are any other issues that happened there that I should know about before commenting here, be sure & let me know, & thanks again!!

          • Kevin Landon

            Any time! Glad I could help!

            I wasn’t at IBMA either — I just saw the lengthy discussion on BluegrassToday.com.

  • Donald Teplyske
    • dennis

      First let me say, I’ve spent way more time on this thread that I needed but to me it is important but I don’t plan on posting on this subject anymore as I’ve said all I have to say here. I doubt I will change anyone’s opinion but hopefully it make a few people think.
      I read your post through twice. You start your post with insinuating people who watch Fox news are “stupid”. I watch Fox news and completely agree with the Republicans in this instance so I know what you think of me right off the bat. I don’t think I’m stupid of course but that’s not my point. I want you to know that putting your bias right up front makes it difficult not to read bias in the rest of your post.
      I’ll be brief. I am not defending the lyric content of the song. No one is supporting spousal abuse and those that insinuate otherwise are being dishonest. I’m not saying you insinuated that but some on the forums most definitely have.
      On the song. I may not have made myself clear in my earlier post about speaking out publicly so I’ll try to clarify. It’s my opinion that Kathy Kallick and others acted unprofessionally by bringing their issues with the song up, in public, at IBMA, in a crowd knowing it was bound to embarrass the artist and the writer. That was wrong in my opinion because there were much more professional ways to handle the situation without causing anyone harm. I believe their actions were in very “poor taste” and I’m sure not one person there would like to be treated in the same manner. I believe Jr. was the only real pro here and he humbly apologized and removed the song to keep from offending those people. His accusers should admit their mistake too but I doubt they will.
      In your post you didn’t understand why people were so upset over a removing an offensive song lyric. I can understand why you wouldn’t understand and I’ll try to explain it to you.
      The real reason people are so adamant about defending the song really has nothing to do with the song or its content. It’s a cultural battle and bluegrass is the battle field. No one seems to want to look at the real problem but here it is warts and all.
      The media, in general, with only a few exceptions, is controlled by a very liberal bias. They don’t like conservatives. The especially don’t like Christian conservatives and there happen to be a lot of those type people in bluegrass music. You might not see the bias just like in you didn’t see it your post but you are not the subject of their ridicule. Its very easy for me to see because, people like me, southern, conservative, Christians are constantly demeaned and stereotyped with false innuendo’s, half-truths and out right lies. It happens on a daily basis. We are called racist, for our political views, bigots for our religious beliefs, stupid dumb hillbilly voting robots by Hollywood celebrities and paid political pundits and slimy politicians. The truth is the opposite of course but you would never know from reading the news or watching tv. It’s amazing how many people come to the south and are surprised that we wear shoes, can read and write and treat them with kindness instead of the contempt they are have grown accustomed too in other parts of the country. Still, The constant propaganda and media bias is destroying our culture. It’s destroying our MUSIC. I see it plain as day because I live it every day. The change is slow and incremental but it is real. Many have drawn a line in the sand are sick of being treated that way and the anger rises to the surface. Sometimes on bluegrass forums.
      Country music is already gone. It no longer reflects the rural southern lifestyle that created it. Its heart and soul were cut out for profit and political correctness. Bluegrass is under attack also and it is changing. Change can be good when brings in fresh blood and remains true to the inspiration that conceived it. Bad if it loses its heart and soul and no longer reflects the culture that gave it life. What were those inspirations that created bluegrass? God, faith, work, joy, sorrow, and the sound of Uncle Pens fiddle.
      If bluegrass becomes subjected to the same political correctness and liberal sterilization of country music it’s fate is sealed also. It might still be music but it will no longer be “bluegrass music”. That’s why people get upset. That is why its a “big deal”. There may be no going back now. It may be too late. The cultural background and bias of those criticizing Jr. Sisk matter. It matters a lot because it “might” be from the same camp that daily attacks the southern culture as a whole.
      Donald, I know your reviews are always thoughtful and do your best to be honest and fair but you’ve missed the boat on this issue. To you it’s about getting rid of and offensive lyric. To me and many others it’s about protecting a way of life. This is about saving a genre of music, the only music left on the planet that truly reflects our way of life. I think you should dig a little deeper and pay closer attention to people you say are attacking you. They see don’t see that way. They see you as the attacker and they have very valid reasons as I’ve explained above. They are attacked every day. It might take a asking a few questions and keeping a cool head. It might take reading between the lines, ignoring some of the heated comments that are posted out of frustration because of the nitwits that permeate cyberspace. It might take stopping and thinking about the inspiration of the Stanley Brothers singing Are You Afraid To Die? and asking yourself should it be removed from all playlist?
      You said no one wants to censor the music but that’s just not accurate. You might not want to censor but there are plenty that do.
      I’ll leave this conversation with one last point and the reason I mentioned the song above. What if the song in question wasn’t about a crummy insincere line about a bicycle chain? What if it was a well written and well performed piece of musical art about a deeply held religious belief stating homosexuality was a sin if people didn’t repent they were doomed to eternity in Hell? Where would you stand?

      • Kevin Landon

        Longtime listener, first-time caller.

        I must say, I was deeply moved by Dennis’s thoughtful dedication to and defensive of his lifestyle. It made me glad to be in America, a country where a man is free to pursue any religion or creed he wants to. The same freedom that gives Dennis the liberty to dedicate his life to his god gives a Muslim the right to follow his faith and a gay person the right to love whomever he or she chooses. It’s a great land, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

        I’m not a believer myself, but the separation of church and state insures that I will can follow my own bliss, and I do so happily, with respect for all others’ pursuits – as long as they don’t try to force their beliefs on me through intimidation or through the law.

        This controversy is very engaging and entertaining, but I have a hard time seeing it as a death knell for bluegrass. The main problem I have is this: “Kathy Kallick and others acted unprofessionally by bringing their issues with the song up, in public, at IBMA.”

        IBMA is not public. It’s a conference for industry people to discuss trends that affect them. If Kathy Kallick can’t discuss a song like this, which can be interpreted (rightly or wrongly) as making light of violence against women at a panel dedicated to the issues facing women in bluegrass today, where can she address it? Kathy certainly was not acting out of intimidation or censorship. She was concerned that women would be offended by this song and thus get turned off from bluegrass all together.

        I give all due credit to Junior, who responded graciously and thoughtfully. If the song was a joke, it’s not very funny, and he’s got lots of other great material. If the song were really connected to Junior’s deepest beliefs, as in the question posed by Dennis, Junior would have a tough decision to make…

        …some artists have already made these decisions, by choosing to limit their audience to a Christian one, or by doing a high percentage of gospel music in their sets. My friends who aren’t into religion don’t tend to go see Dailey and Vincent or Doyle Lawson, for instance.

        Fortunately, there’s a wide range of bluegrass out there, and that to me is the best part of nurturing an eclectic scene: There’s a little something for everyone.

        That’s the beauty of bluegrass and America: We have the opportunity to express ourselves however we see fit, and the audience has the right to respond with their wallet…

        It’s nice to see such thoughtful, passionate, and in some case outright funny dialog.

      • Donald Teplyske

        Dennis, I appreciate this response, and the even-ish tone with which it is delivered. I’m guessing you and I aren’t going to agree that a song about threats of violence toward a woman is a) defensible or b) part of southern culture. As well, we are never going to agree that southern, Christian conservatives are under attack. Or, that this is a question of censorship. Or that bluegrass is the place for a battleground. But I appreciate that we are able to exchange ideas in a measured, reasonable manner without twisting facts into knots- as they tend to do on a certain news channel. We can agree that much of what is called bluegrass is among the greatest music being made today, and I hope that we can agree that- if everyone who weighed in on this discussion here at BT or over on the L actually went and bought a Junior Sisk album- say, his new one with Joe Mullins- the world would be a better place.

        • dennis

          I appreciate your response Donald and didn’t intend to answer but since I can’t delete this text and it is here for posterity I think I need to make a few things crystal clear.

          You said… “I’m guessing you and I aren’t going to agree that a song about threats of violence toward a woman is a) defensible or b) part of southern culture”

          Intentionally or unintentionally that statement “could” lead someone to believe that I had “condoned the violence” in the song which is just not true.

          The “fact” is I clearly stated in my other post and I quote. “I am not defending the lyric content of the song. No one is supporting spousal abuse and those that insinuate otherwise are being dishonest”

          I also very clearly stated. “The real reason people are so adamant about defending the song really has nothing to do with the song”

          You said.
          “As well, we are never going to agree that southern, Christian conservatives are under attack.”

          You said in your blog post you didn’t understand why people were so upset over a song. It was plain to me you didn’t understand. I tried to explain why people are so upset but its obvious you don’t believe what I’m saying is true. So, I guess you will never understand but what I said is true whether or not you believe it.

          “Or that bluegrass is the place for a battleground”

          I didn’t choose the battleground Donald. I just happen to live on it. Bluegrass music is about a culture of people and the LIFE they live. Like, I said its a “cultural” war and it didn’t start yesterday.I’m part Cherokee. I’m sure you know what government bureaucrats and politicians did to the Cherokee. A few generations later, even though my family weren’t slave owners, they lost everything they had. Blasted and burned to Hell in the civil war. What remained of my family left North Carolina and moved to Kentucky and started over. Then, in my lifetime along comes TVA claiming “imminent domain” and tells my family to get. They said we want to make a “recreational area” and kicked us off my great grandfathers farm.
          Now my “way of life”, my “religion” our “Music” is being squeezed out again by the same kind of arrogant,ignorant bureaucrats and politicians spawned by academic pinheads separated from reality by classroom walls, never seeing the pain and hardship they spew out on those who are subject to their liberal pipe dreams and foolishness. It’s been happening to my family for generations but how would you know that? You wouldn’t. How could you see that from where you are? Well you can’t see it and never will as long as all your “facts” come from the very people that are causing the pain.
          Ever hear a bluegrass song lyric saying “I love the government” ” I love losing my freedom to worship” “I love sending my sons off to die to prove some politician is tough”. Ever hear coal mining song saying “I love a president who promises to help coal miners and then shuts down those same coal mines putting those families on welfare while at the same time putting tons of money and votes in his own pocket”. Mu “sacrifice” is supposed to “save the environment”? Please..When Washington politicians park their limo’s and eat catfish instead caviar I might believe them. When Hollywood celebrities ground their private jets, live in three room houses, with an outhouse, burn wood to heat their homes and give all their money to the poor instead of greedy politicians I’ll believe they are “sincere” but until then I’ll judge them by what they do and not what they say. That’s life in my neck of the woods Donald. That’s my reality and you will never see it reported on NBC or Oprah because they don’t like people like me. They look down there noses and make fun of people like me and my family. Please don’t say it isn’t so because it is painfully so. If you want “reality” take off the rose colored glasses of liberalism. If don’t keep them on.

          Sorry for the rant and the run on sentences but even good natured dogs get riled when they are getting kicked in the teeth every day.

          Referring to the song you said we would never agree..

          “that this is a question of censorship.”

          Well you never answered my final question did you? or maybe you did and maybe that’s why people raised the question of censorship in the first place.

          “We can agree that much of what is called bluegrass is among the greatest music being made today”
          We certainly can and I promise you I do not have one bit of personal animosity towards you Donald. I have enjoyed reading your take on bluegrass for several years and will continue to do so.
          Enjoy the music while it last and keep in mind “real” bluegrass music comes a “real place”. When that place is gone the music will be too.

          • grasser

            You go Dennis!

  • Jay Armsworthy

    Has anyone listen closely to the words to this song? The word woman, wife, husband, man, spouse, or anything pertaining to one particular sex is not mentioned anywhere in the song!

    • Kevin Landon

      That’s a bit of a stretch. I mean, he addresses the person in the song as “dear,” which to most of us is a term of affection to a spouse or a loved one. And is it any better to beat a friend with a bicycle chain than a family member?

  • I think whether it is a man, or a woman who may be the one getting threatened, it is not a particularly good or healthy thing,and no, it is not specified. It does seem to be a “partner” of some type. Men and women can both be victims of abuse, so I would not take it as a merely female issue. So if I were trying to be a band with a positive image, or positive message, which I think Junior and the guys often seems to shoot for, not doing the song might be a good move. It never ceases to amaze me how there really are some impressionable people out there for better or worse who are motivated by things that they hear or see that come from well known people. Being better known and circulated sometimes comes with a few more decisions on what one wants to put out there.

  • Steve

    I have come to believe that the strong opinions this song has generated relate to something much deeper than this particular song. What we are seeing is the difference between California and Applachian sensibilities; as well as the the differences between those who relate to “Traditional” vs. “Contemporary” Bluegrass. FYI if you are wondering I fall squarely into the Appalachian and Traditional Camp.

    • Kevin Landon

      Is there room for both?

      • Steve

        Hopefully there will always be room for all of us. What I was trying to say was that environment that you live in inevitably has an effect on your views of many things. I still have to wonder if the issues with Junior Sisk’s choices in songs started with Bicycle Chain or with “A Far Cry From Lester and Earl”

        • Donald Teplyske

          Nope. It started (and ended) with “Old Bicycle Chain.” At least for me. I don’t recall any conversation of a negative tone associated with any Sisk song prior to this one.

  • Lynwood Lunsford

    Jimmy Martin used to say, “It don’t matter what people are saying, as long as they’re talking about you!” His meaning was, publicity is publicity. And I’ll guarantee you, if Jimmy were still around and it was his song, he’d sing it twice on every set!!

  • Kevin Landon

    I like music.

  • Pingback: Irony, schmirony… free speech in bluegrass : Bluegrass Today()

  • Ivan Rosenberg

    This is a tough one: I can understand why bluegrass fans who see the music as being inseparable from a conservative, rural, southern tradition can be put off by anything that looks like political correctness. On the other hand, try being a usually outspoken liberal in bluegrass – trust me, it’s tougher than you’d think. You have to bite your tongue a lot in order to not offend those who might decide they’re no longer a fan or no longer want to hire you for a festival. Most of us either keep our mouths shut, or instead “rebrand” ourselves as folk musicians.

    I think that for bluegrass to thrive in the future, there’s going to have to be some degree of catch-up with modern society. That includes the freedom to mention publicly that something strikes you as offensive. I think it’s commendable to say publicly that a song is offensive to women, especially in such a male-dominated music industry. In this case, I think it’s understood by everyone that it was just an unfortunate song choice and no harm was intended. But it’s a good wake-up call that even though bluegrass music is tied to a place and time in history, and even though most of us agree we should respect the traditions of bluegrass, we can still view the music from a modern perspective and analyze whether certain elements are still appropriate for new songs in the genre. Doing so isn’t taking away anyone’s freedom, and it’s not a slippery slope to rules stating that bluegrass songs must be about green energy and bicycles.

  • KcKc

    I find it without taste & any inkling of class to make statements such as “because it just isn’t that well-written or clever”.
    Life can’t be ALL butterflies, rainbows, & unicorns.
    How about all you crooners of yesteryear & bloggers of today who find the song “sub-par” post up your lyrics & let us pick at those?
    I didn’t write the song, but I can imagine the authors thoughts go something like this:
    “I went to the charts to listen to see what the detractors of my song had to offer, & found nothing. They have nothing there.”
    To that, I would have to say…jealous much?
    This guy has a song on the charts, https://bluegrasstoday.com/chart/
    & they, well, you can figure it out on your own.
    Which, looking at the protests of some of the DJs, says a lot about how much air play the song is receiving.
    Fun stuff.

    • Kevin Landon

      Oh yeah. Bad songs never get airplay.

  • Jay Armsworthy

    Since Halloween is just around the corner, I’ve put together a special program of “Murder Ballads in Bluegrass”. Join me with Bluegrass On The Bay this week and we’ll also play that famous (much talked about) “tongue-in-cheek” tune written by Billy Smith called “Old Bicycle Chain” as well as “The Meanest Lady Cop” from the Daughters of Bluegrass collection.

    And we will be talking with Junior Sisk about the upcoming Bluegrass For Hospice-2013.

    Bluegrass On The Bay:
    Wednesday 6:00 – 8:00 pm EST on http://www.worldwidebluegrass.com
    Thursday 9:00 – 11:00 pm on WNNT 107.5
    Tuesday & Thursday 10:00 – 11:00 am on WWSM 1510

  • Emory Shover

    I love Jr.Sisk. He is an awesome singer. I am 66 years old and have been a musician all my life. I have been a banjo picker for some 40 plus years and guitar picker prior to that. My mother was a bluegrass/country musician until she died at 88 yrs. and played every weekend until the age of 77. Just some background. I love the old ballads. Many of these are based in true events.

    All this being said, I grew up in an alcoholic home and witness the horrors of my mother (as well as myself and brothers) being beaten and abused. The last straw was at age 17 by father beat my mother unconscious with her Christmas present (an old style bonnet hairdryer). I was able to knock my father down and rescue my mother from his alcoholic induced tirade. This is just one of many episodes.
    So don’t talk to me about how cute or humorous this song is. Musically, it was great, as is all of Jrs. songs. But the song resurfaced some terrible visual thoughts in my head as I listened to it. You can believe this or not. I do not care.
    Jr. has a right to do whatever he damned well pleases without all the flames and ignorant statements being generated here. IMHO – he made the correct decision and I applaud him for it. I’m sure there are many, many female bluegrass fans out there that have been abused and know from what I speak. The horror NEVER leaves you.
    It DID NOT stop me from downloading this album. As I said; I love Jr. Sisks music. I just deleted that one song…….and that’s MY choice. You make your own.

    • Kevin Landon

      Thank you so much for speaking up: Your perspective on this issue really means a lot. I’m so sorry you had to go through what you went through.

      And you’re absolutely right – Junior’s the man! He stood up and did the right thing, and I can’t speak highly enough about him.

  • grasser

    I can’t believe this. First the Dixie Chicks and now Jr. Sisk.

    All I can say is this. The song made it onto the CD so SOMEBODY knows a little harmless humor when they hear it.

    JR., I suppose you did the right thing because it sounds like the lynch mob was gearing up.

    And for anyone’s info. I was brought up in a home with a hard working, coal mining father who drank on the weekends and scared us youngins to death when my mom and he got into those knock down, drag out fights.

    The song didn’t even come close to reminding me of those days.

  • dennis

    Rocky Top banned from school for not being politically correct.


    • Kevin Landon

      That’s annoying, but it’s nothing new: Schools have always been a battleground for free-speech issues. Narrow-minded folks have long fought to keep great, important things (“Tom Sawyer,” the teaching of evolution and sex education, extracurricular student organizations focused on religion and gay rights, etc.) out of our schools…

      Certainly worthwhile to raise this, but it is no great harbinger…

      • dennis

        I’m just bringing this to peoples attention. Many people don’t believe that “censorship via political correctness” exist in bluegrass music.

        • Kevin Landon

          This isn’t “in bluegrass music.” It’s in a school. It just happens to be about a bluegrass song (which is really a country-pop crossover tune). It’s not like IBMA created a Sarah Palin-style “death panel” to delete songs…this is the kind of things that have been going on in educational environments for decades.